Experimental Research on Climate Impact

Dossier

Climate change will affect agriculture and forestry in many different ways. Summer droughts, high temperatures, extreme weather events, an increase concentration of CO2 in the air, all of these factors have an influence on the growth and yield situation of plants. At the same time, farming, animal husbandry and forestry affect the climate. In partly very complex experiments, we study the interactions in this network of relationships.

In Freeland CO2 enrichment experiments (FACE) at the Thünen Institute we have already found out how the increase in CO2 combined with drought affects various cultivated plants. These results are used to make yield prognoses and flow into agricultural economic model analyses. In arable crop farming we want to study the effects of heat waves and support the breeding of important cultivated species through the selection of suited genotypes. This makes it possible to increase the yield in a more stable manner regardless of climate and, for example, to maintain the wheat quality for baking despite increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

In forestry, long term planning is even more important than in agriculture. If the forests shall still be stable in 100 years, we must make the correct forestry decisions today. In various experiments, we consider which tree origins are particularly well-suited to the climate conditions of the future. Thus, we create the basis for successful long term forestry.

The relationship between climate and plants is complex. This is why we sometimes need to supplement the experimental data with expert opinions.